Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy 25th Birthday, Jonathan!

Twenty-five years ago our area of the world was locked in an ice storm. For nearly the whole month of December the temperatures barely rose above freezing. At night, everything that had tried to thaw, iced over again. The roads were covered with 'black' ice. This - in northeast Texas.

During the previous night, I got out of bed and walked the floors, laying down on the couch between the widely spaced contractions. At 6 a.m. we headed to Longview, 45 miles away. Three hours later, his daddy and I pulled up to the ER entrance.

December 27, 1983
2:45 p.m.
6 pounds, 11 ounces

A Surprise and a Skull Cap

I saw my mother today. In my mirror. Staring back at me. This surprised me. She was not in my house. It has happened. I have become my mother.

Wait a minute. FINALLY! I FINALLY look like my mother! I have always thought she was a beautful woman. I've never thought that I was beautiful though. Don't go psycho-analyzing me yet. I was overweight as a teenager. Of all the times to be overweight - those dreaded teenage years. I knew that I was not beautiful. BUT I also knew that I was NOT dog ugly. Okay. I'm from northeast Texas and that's a Texism...well, I think the real term is "butt ugly," but I wasn't that either. I also knew that I was not beat with an ugly stick. My mama did not have to tie a bone around my neck when I was a kid so that the dog would play with me.

I just wasn't beautiful. Then I went on a diet. Married. Lost more weight. Tanned to a beautiful bronze. Dark brown straight hair hanging down to my waist. At a horse auction, I was at the concession stand getting a coke - you know, a Dr. Pepper - when I overheard in men's voices... "I think she's pretty." "Yeah. I do too." I never looked around. But on my way back to the building, I didn't see a single woman. Just me. Two men thought I was pretty. Well, three counting my husband but he's supposed to think that. Oh, wait. Four. Daddy.

I'm still not Raquel Welch gorgeous. Or Sophia Loren drop-dead gorgeous. My eyelids are droopy and are getting more so each and every year. My teeth are discolored from fluorosis and are crooked. But I am pretty. My hair is still dark brown and now that it is shorter I find that it is a tiny bit wavy. As long as I stay away from the sunroof in a car, the few gray hairs that I have do not look like a fiber-optic lamp. I am an optimist - my glass is always at least half full - and I almost always smile. I think and hope and pray that I am a nice person.

What led up to this...I knitted my first skull cap and was trying to get a photo of it. If you haven't tried turning the camera on yourself or attempted to take your picture in the mirror. GO TRY IT. It ain't easy! I took a pic...laughed...took another...laughed...took another...oh, there's Mama! I bet I took eight or ten photos. The pattern came from a very talented young lady:

Finally decided to hang the cap on a lamp.

Oh, and here's the lamp. Isn't it a pretty?! The first Christmas after Jonathan's daddy died, that 12-year old boy (he turned 13 two days after Christmas) spent ALL of his Christmas and birthday money on me. I cried.

I collect Fenton Burmese. My mother was a Fenton dealer - hence the reason I could afford it to start with. I fussed at Mama for letting Jonathan spend all of his money. She said that she tried to talk him out of it - but, "He wanted to."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

We are having an extremely quiet day. Just Sam and me until tomorrow. We shared our presents and have played with the goodies in our stockings - CDs. ;o)

In my home, it wouldn't be Christmas without fruitcake. Yep! I typed f r u i t c a k e. But, puleeze don't give me a store bought fruitcake with citron and candied orange peel. I don't even want the candied fruit that grocery stores stock for so-called fruitcakes. Yuck.

Mama tried for years to find a fruitcake like her mother made. She even purchased fruitcakes from Collin Street Bakery - reputed to have the best fruitcakes ever. After trying two or three years in a row, purchasing different fruitcakes from them, she gave up. The only person who would eat them - any of them - was Ron, my first husband. Shoot! He'd even eat the $1 fruitcakes I purchased (for him only) at Wal-Mart. That just proved he'd eat anything! Oh, except celery...until later when he discovered he liked it smeared with peanut butter...???!!!

One day Mama stumbled across her mother's fruitcake recipe in a stash of papers. Excitedly she gave it to me. "See what you can do with this." My grandmother used fruits she canned or fermented or whatever she did along with fresh fruit. Since I don't remember her fruitcake, I have no idea what it tasted like and just couldn't get close to what Mama remembered. So, I took my grandmother's recipe and made it mine.

It turned out soooo good! I researched how to patent a recipe. Well. You can not patent the list of ingredients. The only thing you can patent is the description of how to make that specific recipe. So...I have shared my Not Your Ordinary Fruitcake with several friends. Nora in Conroe Texas has entered it several times in a baking contest...she wins every year she enters it! (I entered it in Daingerfield Days this last October...did not even place!) It is also in the cookbook the Friends of the Daingerfield Public Libray compiled. To order your copy of Cooking With Friends, just look to the sidebar to the right of this post and click on the cookbook.

Not Your Ordinary Fruitcake
Inspired by Ruby Durham Sanford

1 large jar red Maraschino cherries, drained
1 medium jar green Maraschino cherries, drained
1 large can crushed pineapple, drained
1 small package orange slice candy, chopped
1 (1 lb.) package white raisins

1 (1 lb.) package dates
4 cups pecans, chopped

1 package Craisins
1 (14 oz.) package coconut
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound butter
2 cups sugar
10 eggs

You are going to need a BIG container to mix this…I use a jelly kettle. Chop all fruit and nuts and mix together. Combine flour, baking powder, and soda; add to fruit and mix well. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add first mixture and mix well. Bake in two greased tube cake pans at 250 degrees for 2 hour and 45 minutes to 3 hours. You can also bake this in four loaf pans.

The good thing about this recipe is that you can add something else! The Craisins are a recent addition. A short while back, Mama gave me a bag of dried tart cherries. And, man were they ever tart! We ate a few before I decided that I better seal them and put them in the freezer or they would be gone. When Mama handed me a bag of pecans (they are costly this year and I had decided not to spend that much money for nuts therefore not making the fruitcakes) I chopped the dried cherries and into the mix they went. I didn't put as many Maraschino cherries in this time but still worried about adding the Craisins and the dried cherries...concerned that the batter might be too dry. It's not. Especially if you sprinkle a bit of rum over the fruitcake and put the dome back over the cakeplate. ;o)

Look at this cutie! This photo is through the screen so it is not clear. I tried sneaking through the garage, but as soon as I eased my head around the corner, the whole lot of birds "flew the coop." The Mister was on the bird feeder while the Mrs. and some other little birds were on the ground.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Scrubs and Chocolate

Oops! Jonathan noticed that I didn't sew a chest pocket on his top. So it didn't get in the mail today. I did get the pocket and the also requested (and forgotten) loop for his name tag to clip on sewn on the top this afternoon. I made a note on the pattern directions to include both elements on the next top.

I made some truffles late this afternoon. I was still dipping when Jeopardy came on so didn't get to devote my full attention to the show. Oh, man! I'm nearly sick from licking the bowls when I got through. Yum!

I got the recipe with a printout at the grocery store.

Baker's Simply Sensational Truffles

2 1/2 pkgs (20 squares) Baker's semi-sweet chocolate, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
Chopped nuts or colored sprinkles

Melt 8 chocolate squares. Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy. Blend in melted chocolate. Refrigerate until firm.
Shape into 36 balls. (I got 33 with my little cookie scooper.) Place on waxed paper covered baking sheet. Melt remaining chocolate. Use fork to dip truffles, return to baking sheet. Decorate then refrigerate 1 hour.

I dropped them on silicon sheets on top of my granite kitchen island. For topping, I decided to top half with chopped almonds and the other half with chopped cashews. I didn't worry with refrigeration. The granite was cool enough that after we returned from supper, the candies were ready to plate.
Speaking of plate, don't you just love my serving dish?! It is English and was a gift from Mama a few years ago.

The Baker's chocolate package gives instructions for melting the chocolate in a microwave. Basically after the first minute, I checked it every 10 seconds stirring each time.

The recipe states that prep time is 15 minutes. LOL Maybe if you have two or three people doing this assembly line.

I purposefully did not get a photo of me licking my fingers to get every lucious drop of chocolate.

I made the paper pieced tablerunner a couple of years ago and nearly lost my religion in the process. If you were to look at the intersections, very few of them match. I do not like paper piecing and every time I attempt it, I swear I'll never do it again. On the other hand, don't you love the napkins?! The snowflakes designs were free from . I have never been disappointed with any of the designs from that website.

I got carried away with the gusset on my sock and made too many decrease rounds. Therefore, I had to frog-it. rippet rippet - about four or so rows. Sigh. Unknitting is not near as much fun as knitting.

In the meantime: Merry Christmas and may God bless each of you and your families.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm Sewing!

Surprise! It seems so long since I've even wanted to do much of anything in the sewing, quilting, even knitting areas. I am working on a second sock, but it is taking so long. I make one or two rounds and that's about all that I can handle at that time. I haven't made much headway since that beautiful heel turn (see a few posts below). The gusset is coming along...barely. I don't think I've touched it in two days now. Tomorrow...
...Today I made a scrub top for Jonathan. When I was quizzing him about fabrics, he said, "Classic cars." How about Route 66?!

Hopefully I can get it in the mail tomorrow. It may be a bit big...that can be long as it is not too small. Jonathan, let me know how it fits and be sure to send me the measurements on a pair of your best fitting scrub pants.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Harley Days Toy Delivery

What a Blast! Today we went to Longview to participate in delivering toys to the office of the women's shelter.

This morning Sam asked if I was going to ride with him. At that time the temperature was 35 degrees. Brrrrr. I asked what the high was going to be. He didn't know. If I had to give an answer then, No. I turned the television on and found out that the high was going to be around 43. My final answer was, No. Sam put on his leathers and climbed astride his Harley. I put on my jacket, wrapped a scarf around my neck and followed the 4-Runner. My mama didn't raise no least not this little girl! (I have three brothers - that's a totally different story.)

We stopped at the Harley Shop which was still closed. Sam wears H-D FXRG leathers and is a walking testimony. He said that he was warm enough except for his fingers...he has been trying to find the FXRG gloves...looks like he is going to have to order them. After storing his leathers in the back of the 4-Runner, he climbed in with me and we went to Jason's Deli for lunch. When we got back, the lot was slowly filling up.

The bed of a pickup truck was filled level with toys.
35 bikes left the Harley Shop with a police escort. At the office, everyone lined up bucket brigade style and unloaded toys. Um...look at the guys eyeballing the toys!
Over 50 members of the Longview H.O.G. and Longview CMA (Christian Motorcycle Association) participated today.
$$$ worth of bikes...remember - 35 of them!

Busy Day...

...with double great results! The 2008 Tigers played their final game today at 3 p.m. against Cisco in the Waco ISD stadium. The Tigers are the new Texas State 2-A winners beating Cisco 26 - 8. Cisco scored in the last 10 second of the game...and in my opinion only because the coach sent in his second string so that all the boys could have a chance to brag about playing in the state championship game.

Read all about it here:

A few of us met at the library to watch the game via the internet. We had trouble getting sound - couldn't get anything through the speakers so had to plug in the earphones...which meant only one person per computer. Three of us sat in the 'office' area and listened to a radio broadcast over the internet. And we worked. LOL Earlene entering in the computer. Margie checking books in and putting them on the shelf. While I covered jackets with the clear cover, taped them back on the books, then put the books on the shelf.

This evening Sam and I headed to Longview - in the Toyota...not on the Harley's. We stopped at the mall for one more Christmas present then went to Hallsville to the Longview H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) Christmas party. Admission is one toy each. Tomorrow the toys will be delivered to the women's shelter. There will be a ride for that...don't know if we are going yet.